Protest/Protect: A Sukoon Live Reading

Image: Arab American Institute President James Zogby (third from right) joining hands with civil rights leaders Al Sharpton (far right), U.S. Congressman John Lewis (fourth from right) and Coretta Scott King (second from left) at the 40th Anniversary of the March on Washington, August 23, 2003. AANM Collection 2006.11.05. 

6 p.m. EDT Monday, July 27, 2020
Protest/Protect: A Sukoon Live Reading

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In collaboration with Sukoon, AANM presents a live reading around the theme of “Protest/Protect,” co-curated and hosted by Sukoon founding editor Rewa Zeinati, with performers Aja Monet, Chaun Ballard, Safia Elhillo and Layla Azmi Goushey, and music from Ian Fink.

In all 50 states and across the world, protests have been erupting. Why do we protest? Why do we question? Why do we create? To dismantle systems of injustice and oppression, and to reimagine a future in which we may exist more fully. We also do it to preserve, protect and remember what’s rightfully ours: to live a life in dignity. As demonstrations continue across the country in response to long-standing issues of systemic racism and injustice, “Protest/Protect” honors the global uprisings of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Through this event, we will hold space for writers and activists to express the struggles, experiences and victories of the ongoing protests in the fight for freedom.

This virtual reading will be streamed live on AANM’s Facebook page, so be sure to RSVP to the Facebook event to be notified and tune in when the livestream goes up. 


Aja Monet is a surrealist blues poet, storyteller and organizer born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, who follows in the long legacy and tradition of poets participating and assembling in social movements. She won the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam poetry award title in 2007. Her first full collection of poems is My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter (Haymarket Books, 2017). Her poems explore gender, race, migration and spirituality. In 2018 she was nominated for a NAACP Literary Award for Poetry, and in 2019 was awarded the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award for Poetry for her cultural organizing work in South Florida. Monet co-founded a political home for artists and organizers called Smoke Signals Studio. She facilitates Voices: Poetry for the People, a workshop and collective in collaboration with Community Justice Project and Dream Defenders. She is currently working on her next full collection of poems, Florida Water.

Chaun Ballard’s chapbook, Flight, was the winner of the 2018 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize and is published by Tupelo Press. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Narrative Magazine, Rattle, Sukoon, The New York Times, Tupelo Quarterly and other literary magazines. Chaun is the recipient of a 2019 Alaska Literary Award. His work has received nominations for both Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize. 

Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017), which received the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets and an Arab American Book Award, Girls That Never Die (One World/Random House 2021), and the novel in verse Home Is Not a Country (Make Me A World/Random House, 2021). She is co-editor of the anthology Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket Books, 2019) and currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

Layla Azmi Goushey is a Professor of English at St. Louis Community College in St. Louis, Missouri. She is a reviews editor for Sukoon magazine, an Arab-themed art and literature journal. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Adult Education: Teaching and Learning Processes. Her poetry and prose have been published in several literary journals. She has recently published two essays: The Jordanian Kids in the June 2019 St. Louis Anthology and Profile of a Citizen: Generations Then and Now in the March 2020 anthology, Beyond Memory: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Creative Nonfiction.  

Ian Fink is a pianist, producer, and composer based in the Detroit area. He performs in many different ensembles and has done so alongside artists such as Esperanza Spalding, Karriem Riggins, Robert Hurst, Shigeto, and Savion Glover. On Wednesday nights he hosts Singularity Detroit on Instagram Live (@finkianfink), where he performs a 3 to 4 hour solo piano set. He is a 2020 Gilda Award winner in Music Composition and Performance awarded by the Kresge Foundation. 

Rewa Zeinati—recipient of the 2019 Edward Stanley Award for Poetry, Lebanese-American poet, writer, and educator—is the founding editor of Sukoon. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, Bullets & Orchids (Corrupt Press, 2013) and her work is published in several journals and anthologies, including Prairie Schooner, Guernica, Diode, Grist, So To Speak, The Spectacle, Natural Bridge Journal, Quiddity, Mizna, Uncommon: Dubai, Making Mirrors: Writing/Righting by Refugees, among others. She’s lived in three countries and eight cities in the past decade, and now considers metro Detroit her new home.


Sukoon is an independent, online literary journal, publishing Arab-themed art and literature in English, by established and emerging artists, poets and writers of short stories and personal essays, reflecting the diversity and richness of the cultures of the Arab world.
Learn more about Sukoon.


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  • July 27, 2020 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
  • 6:00 pm